Serve, Preserve, and Inspire

Thu, 2012-09-27 09:50

I spent last week in Washington, DC, training professionals for the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance exams. The classes were comprised of architects and engineers from the Architect of the Capitol (AOC), Capitol Power Plant, Department of Energy, and the U.S. Navy, among others.

The AOC professionals have responsibility for a campus that is toured by millions of visitors each year. The campus includes the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, the House and Senate buildings, and the U.S. Botanic Garden. Truly, these professionals care for our national treasures.

I arrived on Amtrak and walked a few miles on a glorious Sunday afternoon. Photos below include the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, shown left, and the Supreme Court, shown right, with the scaffolding on the façade.

I happened to teach the LEED Green Associate class on a significant anniversary: President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol in the building’s southeast corner on September 18, 1793, with Masonic ceremonies.

Here is a photo of the LEED Green Associate candidates:

For LEED Certification, there are two application manuals that can be considered; one is the LEED Application Guide for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects and another is a white paper regarding District or Campus Thermal Energy for LEED Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance projects. We discussed both of these tools and learned more about the Capitol Power Plant.

The U.S. Congress authorized construction of the Capitol Power Plant in 1904, which provided steam and electricity to the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, and a few congressional facilities on Capitol Hill by 1910. Today, the Capitol Power Plant provides heating and cooling, with the power grid and renewable sources providing electrical generation.

I love all this history and the fact that the power plant was initiated during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s home is in Oyster Bay, NY, and I have worked extensively in that community to preserve its past and bring about economic development for its future. The New York Times also named Theodore Roosevelt “America’s Greenest President” in a story on September 20, 2012.

Below is a photo of the candidates for LEED AP Existing Buildings: Operations + Maintenance:

Later in the week, I toured the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. The workmanship on the interior of this structure is considered by many to be the most beautiful on the campus, and the collections themselves are priceless. There is a special exhibition, a re-created version of Thomas Jefferson’s library, which assembles 6,487 volumes that founded the Library of Congress. It is displayed and organized to provide insight into how one of America’s presidents and greatest thinkers found inspiration through the world of books. I secured special access to stand outside a balcony surrounding the top of the dome. From this vantage point, one can see our nation’s capitol and its entire splendor.

The image on the left was taken from the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building. The image on the right shows the Edwin Blashfield Mural at the top of the dome during the restoration process.

The mission of the Architect of the Capitol is to SERVE Congress and the Supreme Court, PRESERVE America’s Capitol, and INSPIRE memorable experiences.

The professionals I met during my visit exemplify all of these aspirations. They are dedicated to improving the operations in these historic buildings by conserving energy and water and implementing sustainable practices for the building and the grounds. The buildings and the landscape in our nation’s capitol are magnificent and are expertly maintained for all to enjoy.


About the Author

Joan MahonJoan Mahon is a senior LEED instructor and business development representative for Everblue. Since 2009, Joan has trained thousands of candidates to achieve the LEED Green Associate and LEED AP credential. She has been honored several times in her community for her work in the green building industry. These accolades include: the 2006 Vision Long Island Smart Growth Award, 2007 New York State Woman of Distinction 15th Assembly District, 2008 NY Chapter American Society for Landscape Architects Merit Award, 2005-2008 New York State Quality Communities Grant, and 2012 Distinguished Service Award.

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